Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


ERLC's Russell Moore: Pray for ISIS' defeat, salvation 

MooreNASHVILLE (BP) -- Prayers for both the defeat of and the salvation of Islamic State terrorists are not contradictory, Southern Baptists' lead ethicist says.

Christians should "pray for the Gospel to go forward, and that there might be a new Saul of Tarsus turned away from murdering to Gospel witness," wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a Wednesday (Feb. 18) blog post. "At the same time, we ought to pray, with the martyrs in heaven, for justice against those who do such wickedness."

Prayers for both the defeat of such enemies and their conversion to Christ "are not contradictory prayers because salvation doesn't mean turning an eye away from justice," he said. "We can pray for Gospel rootedness in the Middle East, and we can pray to light up their world like the Fourth of July, at the same time."

Moore's comments came three days after the release of a video showing the apparent beheadings of 21 Egyptians -- all, or nearly all, Coptic Christians -- in Libya by members of the Islamic State. Many news reports said all were Coptic Christians, while National Public Radio reported one of the victims was not. Text that accompanied the video is addressed to "The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church," according to news reports.

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Lawsuit alleges Atlanta Fire chief terminated because of Christian faith

Dismissed fire chief Kelvin Cochran appeared at a press conference immediately after a civil rights lawsuit was filed on his behalf against the city of Atlanta. Cochran said that during his 34-year career he had a personal mission "to treat everyone in the communities in which I've served and the members of the departments in which I have served with dignity, with respect, and with equity." Photo from The Christian Index

ATLANTA (BP) – "Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear (of) being fired because of their beliefs and their thoughts," said David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), explaining the lawsuit ADF filed on behalf of dismissed Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.

"... In America a religious test cannot be used to fire a public servant," Cortman said yesterday (Feb. 18) in a press conference moments after the lawsuit was filed at the state capitol.

The federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed is necessary "in order to protect not only (Cochran's) Constitutional rights, but everyone else's Constitutional rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion," Cortman said.

Cochran was suspended in late November and ordered to undergo sensitivity training after a section of the book he self-published, "Who Told You That You Were Naked?", was found offensive for including sections from the Bible that described marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Obamacare prompts church to close Baptist day care in Longview, Texas


LONGVIEW, Texas (BP) – A church is closing the day care center it has operated for more than 30 years in response to requirements imposed by the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare").

Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, said in a statement on its website, Feb. 12, that closing the day care "comes with much sorrow" and follows months of Mobberly staff "praying, researching and discussing the issue."

Under the health care law, employers that meet a certain employee count threshold must provide full-time workers with comprehensive health insurance. Although the number of full-time Mobberly Child Development Center workers falls below the threshold, the day care is part of the church and the federal government includes church staff and day care workers when accounting for the total number of employees.

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Eureka Springs rushes to pass ordinance protecting homosexuals

EUREKA SPRINGS – Eureka Springs Aldermen passed an ordinance Feb. 9   making it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in matters concerning employment, housing, business and public accommodations.

The city rushed to pass Ordinance 2223 during Monday's meeting so that it would become city law before a bill in the state Legislature passes making such ordinances illegal. Senate Bill 202 passed on the Arkansas Senate floor the same day, in route to the state House of Representatives.

"We passed the first domestic-partnership law in the state, married the first same-sex couples in the state. Yet as a community, we don't have laws to protect those people," Council member James DeVito told the council. "So I think it is imperative that we pass this in three readings."

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Huckabee speaks on power of Scripture, new book at The Church at Rock Creek

LITTLE ROCK – Former Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke at The Church at Rock Creek, Little Rock, during a special evening service Feb. 8. Instead of discussing his potential presidential campaign,, he preached on the power of Scripture and promoted his new book "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."

Sunday was the last stop on a book tour that has taken Huckabee to nearly 50 cities in 15 states since Jan. 17. People gathered in at least 60 churches across the country to watch the event, titled "America: From Ordinary to Extraordinary." Huckabee said the program was being webcast to 1,600 locations, including homes.

HuckabeeHuckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor and president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, emphasized that faith in God is more powerful than politics.

"Ultimately, the hope for this country is not in the politicians; it's in the pews of our churches," Huckabee said.

Before preaching, Huckabee assured reporters that his visit was not politically motivated.

"It's not a political rally. It's not a political event. It is really a spiritual night of encouragement and inspiration," he said, adding that viewers would have "a great opportunity to celebrate America and celebrate their faith."

In response to questions regarding his possible presidential bid, Huckabee said: "I've been very candid. I think people know that when I left the Fox News show in early January, I wasn't doing that just to spend Saturdays at home. So clearly things are headed in that direction, but that announcement isn't ready to be made until a little later in the spring."

Repeating themes in his latest book, Huckabee argued that Washington, D.C., New York City and Hollywood are out of touch with Americans in Arkansas and the rest of "flyover country."

He argued that Christians are despised, not only by the Islamic State, but by some Americans, who accuse them of "hate speech" if they speak out for traditional Christian teachings.

"It's a compliment to you when you're hated because of your hope and when you're hated because your faith leads you," Huckabee told hundreds of supporters at The Church at Rock Creek. "It's all right to be who you are, to believe what you believe. ... A hundred years from now, you will be glad you stood for that which is righteous."

The event drew hundreds of supporters, several Huckabee political advisers and a popular country music artist, Larry Gatlin. Gatlin played a number of songs, including "All the Gold in California," "When the Roll is Called up Yonder" and "I'm an American with a Remington." Huckabee played bass on one of the songs.

Several of those in the audience said they're hoping for a Huckabee candidacy. "My heart says he will (run)," said Lester M. Sitzes III, a dentist from Hope who has known Huckabee for decades. "If he runs, I'll be there for him any way he needs. There'll be a lot of people there for him."

Story compiled from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

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